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e-year analysis of the oa administration. >> the idea that president obama and his team were able to somehow transform the map and transform the political geography of this country or the political demography of this country, that just doesn't look to be the case. they did redraw the map in 2008. it was an he norly impressive victory. but that doesn't mean that theyave somehow fundamentally altered the landscape in permanent ways. >> and job grisham is here with a new book, a collection of short stories. >> it is more about people. more about the small town people. many of whom are struggling. many of whom have had a lot of miss erie, a lot of hope. it's about small town lawyers and the crazy things they do out of desperation.
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all stuff i saw firsthand many years ago. >> rose: mohamed elbaradei, john harris, john grisham next. >> funding for charlie rose has been provided by the k08ing -- following: captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
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>> rose: mohamed elbaradei is here. after 12 years as directer general of the united nations nuclea watchdog the international atomic energy agency, he will step down at the end of this month. his tenure has been marked by historic events. in 2003 he found no evidence that iraq was reing whether building its nuclear weapons program. in 2005 he and the iaea were jointly award the nobel peace prize for working to prevent nuclear proliferation and promoting the safe use of nuclear energy. long a proponent of dialogue, he witnessed the first talks in 30 years between iran and the united states in geneva last month. he is now involved in the draft agreement between iran, the united states, russia and france to process iran's uranium stockpiles outside the country. there are reports today that progress on the deal is being held up by iran's ongoing internal political crisis. this week dr. elbaradei called the current mont a unique and fleeting opportunity to reverse
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course from confrontation to cooperation with iran. we want to talk about all of that and i am very pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. >> charlie, it is great to be here again. >> rose: all right. let me just start. tell me where you think the moment is. >> well, the moment is a historic critical moment, charlie, that this is for the first time i see a genuine desire by the president of the united states and by the iranian leadership to engage in a genuine dialogue. it's after 50 years of animosity, of distrust. and that's why we have this difficulty today. the it is a symbolic gesture but it could be the first step in a broad dialogue that eventually could integrate iran with the rest of the international community to the benefit of the united states, to the benefit of iran. we are trying to make that step, you know, move forward. and i think barack obama is stretching backward, frankly,
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to engage iran. and i have been saying to the iranian leadership privately and publicly, make use of that opportunity. reciprocate. right now that deal is -- still hinges on the question of guarantees, you know. the iranian are distrustful that if their material will go out of iran, they might not get it back in the form of fuel. despite the fact that we have been having as part of that agreement, built in a lot of guarantees. the russian are guaranteeing the implementation. the american are ready for the first time to guarantee the implementation. the agency will take custody of this material so that the international community as a whole will --. >> rose: your agency. >> iaea will take custody of the material when it goes back until it comes back to iran. so there is a lot of built-in guarantees. but the iranian still would like to see the material stay in iran until they get the fuel. well that will not diffuse the crisis. because to get the material out of iran will diffuse
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this perception that iran having material that could be used for nuclear weapon. it will give barack obama the space, you know, to negotiate in a calmer environment. i have been proposing and everybody has been trying to be clear, i have been proposing to get the material in a third country. turkey, for example, a country where iran has full trust, you know. and keep it there until they get the fuel. i still think we need to continue to hammer at that deal. because that deal is not, it is not just about the humanitarian assistance, it's not just about the fuel to a react never iran. it's about the first step in a very long growth toward finally normalization between iran and the united states after 50 years, as i said, of warring, you know, warring parties just doing damage to each other. iran could be a very positive element in the stable middle east. iran could be absolutely essential to stability in afghanistan, in iraq, city of lebanon, palestinian
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territories. >> rose: do you think they want that. >> i think they want --. >> rose: to be a force of stability. >> i think they made it clear to me that if they work as partners with the united states, they want to help in afghanistan, in iraq and syria and lebanon. they made that clear more than once to me. and that is -- that is -- that's where the big picture comes into play, charlie. that if, if there is a meaningful engagement, if there is all the grievances are put on the table, iran could be, of course there will be a discussion what the iran can do, what the u.s. can do and cannot do. but eventually iran could be a positive force in stability in the middle east. >> rose: but as you know many people worry that they do not want to be or cannot be a force for stability as long as they are giving the kind of support they are to hamas and to hezbollah. >> well, sure, charlie. e put on the table, youave know, what support iran should give to who. and iranian also have their grievances. but all this has to be put
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into the jackpot, if you like. and we should be able to find a package that reconciles the differences and be able to have iran coexist with the united states. they might agree to disagree on certain issues. but there is a bigger issue that we need to -- we need to engage. >> rose: go ahead. >> that stability, the middle east is in a total mess right now. and it is becoming gradually radicalized, you know, the so-called moderate regimes are losing credibility. and we need to stop that fight. and iran i think is the gate to hopefully beginning of stability of the middle east. when you enge a regime, i always believe that, charlie, that is how you change behavior. there is a lot of activities by iran, people disapprove of but that's not going to happen. by not talking to them, you know. >> rose: but who is stopping them from talking? >> well, i think, well, in the past six years during
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the bush administration. >> rose: i know but that is past. >> that past. >> rose: the obama administration has no preconditions to talk. >> i know, absolutely. and that is finally when i started to see genuine hope of getting iran engaged. iran had tried during the bush administration more than once to engage the americans, the was no appetite for that. right now the ball is the iranian court. they need to engage. unfortunately, right now there is a lot of internal turmoil. everybody is outbidding the other. and i have been telling them privately and publicly, look at the big picture. you need to engage the u.s. you need to engage the rest of the international community. it really is in your long-term interest. there is a lot of pride issues, a lot of dignity issues. but this is all things that one can work it out, you know. but at the end of the day, i hope that you will understand that, you know, their long-term interest is not to continue to be at odds with that, most of the international community but fully engage with the united -- with the international community and
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the united states is the one who can do the heavy lifting. there is no question about that. >> rose: you mentioned the election. what impact do you think it's having in terms of any debate about the nuclear issue within iran? >> i think because of the division i'm not a student of the domestic politics in iran but because of, as i said --. >> rose: they now have visible competing forces. >> competing forces, clearly. and they are using the nuclear issue, even the fuel issue which is a technical issue, which is everybody should be happy to move on that issue. because everybody understands that, that having iran at peace with the united states will be to the benefit, definitely of iran and the united states. but it is now, everybody is getting into a payback situation, frankly, the way i see it, the way i read the paper. everybody is trying to outbid the other by turning that issue into a national pride issue. it is not a national pride issue. it's an issue that should be
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focused on as a technical issue, at the beginning of a trust building between iran and the rest of the international community. >> rose: but the fact one more time is that the iranians are delaying the conversation. >> the iranians right now are continuing to say we need more guarantees. we need to keep the fuel in iran until we get -- we keep our material in iran until we get the fuel. >> rose: what guarantees do they want? >> well, to keep their own stuff in iran until they get the manufacture of fuel back. in other words, --. >> rose: oh, i see. in other words, they get the fuel rods back. >> yeah, it's a swap wrz they want a swap and not send their material out to come back --. >> rose: so they will give you some of the material now. you make it into fuel rods, send it back, we will give you more materials, is that the way it works. >> they don't want to give me any material, they want to wait to get the fuel, different material, say russian material, and that's of course defeats the whole purpose of that agreement. because the whole purpose of that agreement --. >> rose: what does that say to you that they want to take that tact. >> well, it is as that they
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are, as a result, i believe, of all the domestic different political view, the domestic competing forces, that everybody is taking to me the high moral ground. but this is not a solution. you have to take risk for peace as i told them. and they are not taking really much risk at all. i mean they are basically saying, you know, you know, we are ready to take five percent risk in return for a 100 percent, you know, opening the door into iran, stable iran, accepted as a regional power. that is really what it is all about. iran wants to be accepted as a regional power, as the most -- power of the region. and it is an opportunity for them now to be accepted by the united states, by the international community. >> what is the evidence they are not accepted as a regional power. israel is scared to ath of them. >> well, in a way yes but ey want to be accepted by the united states, not as a scare crow. but as a partner.
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they want to be -- they have told me more than once that -- we acknowledge the u.s. to be the global power but we want to be acknowledged by the united states as a regional power and be a partner. but of course being a partner means to have to accept certain, you know, restrictions, certain dialogues, certain nos and yess and that --. >> rose: and certain behaviors as required of a community. >> of course, of course. and they have to explain their behaviors on certain issues. they have to, you know, they have to get engaged. >> rose: well, what is interesting about this is you almost believe that if you could somehow all -- all negotiations seem to me to be, come down to pride and fear. >> absolutely. >> rose: pride and fear. >> absolutely. >> rose: our pride as a regional power, our fear that somehow you will do something to us or won't respect us. >> correct. that you will either -- that whatever we will do will be seen as compromising our pride or we are going to trick us, you know. and we understand that. i understand that. >> rose: but who has more evidence of being tricked,
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they or -- those countries that are anxious of them not to have a nuclear weapon. >> well, i think again they continue to say that we are not going to have nuclear weapons. they, i believe that they want -- they are the key of course to develop the technology to have nuclear weapons, you know, that can enable them which means the enrichment. having the nuclear material. i'm not sure they want to go all the way to develop nuclear weapons. but by having the technology, charlie, they are sending the message to their neighbors which you said are afraid of them, the rest of the world, that don't mess up with us. and in a way, we still live, unfortunately, in a world if you have the technology, you have power, prestige, you provide yourself an insurance policy. and i think that's what the iranian are after. we are -- they use the nuclear as a means to an end which is, as i said, final recognition by the u.s.. >> rose: some way you could say to them there is a way for you to have the prestige and the power. >> yeah. >> rose: and all that you want without having nuclear
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weapons, that would unlock -- >> i think so. and in my view, in the long-term, the whole issue, the whole nuclear issue will wither away. because i still see there as a means to an end. if they get the recognition --. >> rose: how do we do that, not we but how do people negotiating with them do that? >> that is where we wanted to get this fuel issue set aren't agreed. barack obama made it very clear that the second phase will be to negotiate not only the nuclear issue but the economic issue, human rights issues, trade issues. and then, all right, then you will get accepted as a regional power, not as a feared power but as an accepted regional power. as a partner for peace, you know, which as you said requires certain behavior on both sides. and that could only happen happen if the parties sit together and do that. >> rose: what do they say when you sit with them and you say listen, you know, you have mislead us. you have been deceptive. you have not been transparent. su have not been forthcoming, so why shouldn't the united
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states and france and the soviet union be distrustful of your intentions. >> they will tell you that, you know, look what happened to us in 1953 when the cia and, you know, and the mi 6, the british intelligence unseated the first national elected government. they tell you that we have en under sanctions since the revolution because people don't like our ideology. they have their own, their own, you know, justification of why they feel that she have been mistreated, isolated. and there are, you know, rights or wrongs on both sides, there is no question about it. >> rose: two different things. >> absolutely. but i think what --. >> rose: they took americans as hostage. >> everybody has aggrieveance on that level, it has nothing to do with the nuclear. >> that's correct. and they are saying that we do not want nuclear weapons. but of course, they have -- they did not -- they created a trust deficit, you know by cheating on us, you know, by
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cheat on the verification process. and i --. >> rose: why did they say they would do it. >> well, they said we have done that because if we would have told you in time, we would not have been able to get the equipment. remember they got the equip thement. and they said if we would have told you, you know, we would have gotten zero equipment because we are under sanction. i mean there are arguments. but the best thing is to forget about the arguments as barack obama is saying, let's look at the future. you know, we can regurgitate the past for as much as we can but it's to the going to solve any issues. let us start to build trust and beat it skem atically after taking one step after another. >> rose: legally they have the right to enrich uranium. >> legally they have t right to enrich uranium the way japan, brazil, germany, 13, 14 countries are having the right to enrich. >> rose: so what don't they have the right to do? >> to develop nuclear weapons. >> rose: but they can take it right up to the point, legally -- >> they can take it right up to --.
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>> rose: right up to within -- >> right up to the point when they have the no-how. and any country that have the enrichment capable or capacity, charlie, is able to do nuclear weapons, to manufacture nuclear weapons in a matter of months. and that is really why i have been saying that if you really want a system that is, you know, provides genuine security, no country should have the right to enrich on its own or have plutonium on its own. in other words, the material you have, you can use for nuclear weapons but have that at the multi national control. that's the only way. because, all right, i mean now brazil is a country nobody is questioning. japan is a country nobody questioning. and germany is a country --. >> rose: those are three countries that have the possibility. how many are thered and that within month kos have nuclear weapons if they wanted to. >> well, you have the nine weapon states which already have nuclear weapons but you have a number of others. you have argentina, brazil, japan, germany, you have holland. i mean, and you have --.
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>> rose: they all could have nuclear weapons within months. >> they have the capacity. they have the capacity. >> rose: they have the enriched material and they have the know-how. >> right, exactly. and that as i said, it's a margin of security, too close for comfort. and iran brought that issue to the surface, you know, can we live under that system of security that you go all the way and then you say, you know, i'm not developing nuclear weapon, which is fine. but if your security perception changes in the next couple of months, you know, you are able to -- you know, so the system is very fragile. anif we -- we need to deal with iran because, of course, there is a lot of question about its future intention. but future intention applies to every country. it's a questionf how much i trust the country, you know, and that's -- it really is in the eyes of the beholder. it is based on regime behavior also. but the best is not to rely on just future intention reading, you know, reading the card. but is to not to enable any
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country to have the technology that can enable them to have nuclear weapon in a matter of months. that to me is a long-term solution. >> rose: so the long-term solution, would you take it away from japan, from any -- take it away from holland, from germany, from all of them. >> and i take it away from all the weapon state. if barack obama now is talking with about a world free from nuclear weapons. that should be an integral part of this new structure which everybody talks about. a world free from nuclear weapons. if you are going to do that, as then the whole multinational, you have to multinationalize the entire fuel cycle. no country should have the right to do enrichment or reopro sesing, it will be all under multinational cl control, regional control. >> rose: 20 iran for a secretary. the fear is that while they talk and find reasons to delay an delay they are getting closer and closer to the point they want to be. so they are exactly where germany is or japan is. >> not --. >> rose: and once they get there, they can say aha too lights, folks. >> they are not there in terms of capacity. but they, of course, in the last few years developed the
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semi industrial capacity, i should say right now. and that's why the area we engage in dialogue. we could have stopped, you know, that program six years ago when iran was ready to stop research and development phase, you know. but at that time nobody wanted to talk to them. because they were part of the axis of evil, you know. and later on they put an impossible condition to accept for iran to accept saying suspend everything before we negotiate. well, that's the whole purpose of negotiation. the outcome should be --. >> rose: you think we really missed an opportunity. >> we mismanaged six years of dealing with iran. and right now, you know, iran, six years ago had --. >> rose: it always takes two to tango. >> but i must say, as i say in fairness at least to iran, they have always said we are ready to negotiate. we are ready to talk. whether they were serious or not, but at least they made the offer verbally through the swiss, through myself. i mean a number of times always said we're ready to discuss everything. there was no -- there was no
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other side. >> rose: but as you know, somebody will always say but they had the secret facility. we didn't know about the secret facility. if they want to talk, why don't they disclose. >> that is also --. >> rose: if they have one secret facility why don't we assume they have seven. >> charlie, it is gensym to matic of the environment of total distrust. the answer i get, of course they are on the wrong side of the law. they have rye lated relations, they should have told us from the day they decided to build that facility. but the answer is when i hear every day that i'm going to be bombed, you know, what am i going to do. i have to build a bunker to protect my technology with. whether that is true or not, but that is, you know, at least they have the prefix -- pretext to say that i wish people would stop saying we are going to use force. because it provides, protects. i hope iran --. >> rose: nobody said they are going to bomb them. they just said there is an option on the table. >> but an option on the table, if you say there is every option on the table, i mean it's implicitly. and there was a lot of discussion that the israelis there say deadline, time
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line. it is not good. because the solution is not a military, there is no military solution, you know. it could only delay the iranian program. in fact, if there is, iran were to be bombed, and even if eye raj were not really going for a nuclear weapon, i bet everything they will go for a crash course to develop nuclear weapon if they were bombed. so you know there is no military solution. you have to, you have to find a solution by which the international community have confidence that iran is not developing nuclear weapon and that requires a lot of confidence building measures, a lot of talk. >> put yourself in israeli standpoint for a second. the fear is a nuclear weapon will get into the hands of a terrorist. i say that too. the israelis say that and they hear someone that says their leader, their elected president says we want to wipe you off the face of the earth. >> that is what the israelis here. that is an extremist group. theres a lot of a lot of
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regrettable statement. >> i heard a statement to say that will wipe any country off the face of the earth. and of course extremely offensive, anybody question the holocaust. >> rose: we don't recognize you as a country. >> that is offensive. but i have lived to hear began saying there is no such thing as the palestinian people. well, it is the same person whdid peace later on. so we should try to sometimes overcome, you know, a statement and try to focus on issues. and the israelis i understand their fear. but they also should understand that you know, look from the other side, in the israelis are sitting on a nuclear program. and all of them are sort of, you know, helpless, vis-a-vis the israeli threat. so threat is in the eyes of thbeholder as i said that is why my hope is that to finally have peace and security in the middle east where a middle ea free of all weapons of mass destruction including any weapon in israel, including any possible
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capacity in iran, and start to shift gear, you know, to be able to live together as one as well as part of one human family, charlie rses when you look at where he we are today, you say that if somebody uses military force against iranian, every iranian all the way to los angeles where there is a community of iranians would be opposed to it and rise up and have nationalistic spirit, right. >> right. >> rose: secondly you say sanctions will not work. >> right. >> rose: because they do too much, you say, pain on the wrong people. >> right, right, correct. >> rose: so we don't negotiate. >> right. i mean we -- we are is we have to put focus n my view, on a meaningful dialogue first. and try and exhaust every possibility to reach an agreement through dialogue, u know. you might, if you exhaust all that and you have no, you know, you have no, are you not moving forward and you still are having an imminent threat, you know, obviously you have the tools
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of sanctions. but we talk about smart sanctions. i haven't seen yet these smart sanctions. i have seen sanctions that, frankly, are hurting the innocent and the vulnerable, you know. and i am not a great fan of sanctions, but if you have sanctions you have to apply to the regime. and how much you can apply to a regime where -- he made use of the sanctions and was really the innocent iraqis who died in the process, you ow,. >> rose: so sanctions against hughes hughes was a bad idea? >> -- hussein was a bad idea. >> it was a bad idea the way it was applied. because you have to develop a sanction where you really target the government, you know, responsible for the bad things. >> rose: what kind of sanction does that. >> i don't know. i mean ban of travel, freezing of assets. but frankly, that doesn't really impact on the regime, you know. >> rose: some of those things have already been done. >> right. >> rose: freezing assets. >> and if you have crippling sanctions, then you have -- on society except the government that is responsible for whatever you are en --. >> rose: they don't feel the pain. >> people do not have the
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power to overthrow them. sanction was designed if in 1945 to apply to democratic societyless that you know, a government does something bad, then you apply sanctions. the people will be able to change the government. historically all sanctions have been applied against thorn regime so people are thought allly helpless. then the use of force. of course the use of force is not, it is part of the u.n. collective security and you can use force sometime. but you have to understand what is objective of using force. you cannot use force unless you are really facing an imminent threat when you have no other option but to use force. but force in many cases does not solve the problem. the israeli, you know, bomb, the iraqi -- in 1981, they were quite happy and people said they nipped a danger. but what they don't say, that in 1982 ray year after saddam hussein went in
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underground with a huge mammoth undeclared nuclear weapon program. so you can delay as bob gates said a couple of weeks, a couple of years, it comes back to haunt you later on. >> rose: that's right. but here is where you are though. i'm interested in where you think iran might be if all iran wants is to be respected and to be viewed by the united states as a power in the region, and perhaps to do whatever it has to do to gain that respect, if, in fact it's up to them to decide they have received that respect, the ball is totally in their court. >> i think that'correct. i think that is -- the ball is totally in their court right now. there is a hand stretched to them by barack obama administration, by him personally, you know. i think they need to reciprocate. they need to also show that they are ready to take, you know, start building trust. and as part of that, of
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course, they have to assure the international community that they have no intention. they keep saying we have no intention of developing nuclear weapons but we need to build up concrete confidence building measures, inspection, capacity of nuclear program, what have you. they need to take concrete steps. but you cannot just continue to say well, we need to be trusted. i mean you have to do some words to be trusted. >> rose: a lot of words have been tried to get them to see this and it hasn't worked so far. >> unfortunately right now also the aftermath of the election i think is complicating things, charlie as the way i see it but that is why i am advising for someatient. let the dust set em. let them hopefully see the light at the end of the tunnel. and the light is you have to engage. you have to work to build trust. the ball is in your court. >> but my perception is that the president said to the israelis look, the israelis for one example, we've got to give them to the end of the year to see what progress can be made before anybody talks about any
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other kind of action, whatever it might be, right? >> yeah, i think that's -- >> are you talking about are they going settle down this question of the election crisis by then. are they going to come to some idea that it is in their interest interest to do this by now and the end of the year. >> i hope so i can't really read the crystal ball but there is a lot of intensive suggestion in a -- discussion in iraq, i'm in contact with iranian every single day. basically preaching, you know, to them to convert if you like, you know, to understand that the world is to the going to wait forever. you need to take some reciprocal steps. i still have some hope. we still have a couple months and hopefully that if we get that deal and as i said i'm still working on this idea of a third country, you know, as a compromise. put them --. >> rose: turkey. >> put them. >> rose: it is not russia, france, it's turkey. >> exactly. >> rose: turkey because is a muslim country or what. >> i think iran had a close relationship with turkey. they trust turkey. it could be turkey, it could be kazakhstan. it could be any country.
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>> let's take turkey, with the united states and everybody else trust turkey to be the repos tory. >> it is very comfortable with turkey. i can tell you that. >> and so when you advance this idea, what do the iranians say then. >> they are still discussing it. they say we would like to keep it in our territory but i said that defeats the whole purpose of diffusing the crisis because we need to get the material out to eliminate the perception that you could develop nuclear weapons tomorrow or yesterday. so i am still pushing on this idea of turkey, charlie. i don't know whether i succeed but i can tell you that the u.s. is very comfortable with turkey. iran has a lot of trust with turkey and it should work. >> there are some people though who listen to you and say i have enormous respect for mohamed elbaradei. he is a good and wise man. however, you know, there is nothing can be said. there is no reason to believe that there are any words that can change. >> that's correct. >> does part of you believe that in i mean does part of you believe there's nothing,
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in the end we have to keep trying but there is nothing that will cause them to be able to change their mind about what is in their national interest. >> well, the iranian society is a very -- is a -- there a diffusion of power in iran. it is not like the arab world where you have one strong person who can decide things. iran is a very multipowered society. and there is a lot of debate going on. you know, and that also, you know, we have to give them time to ventilate their different views. but i still believe that, you know, i still believe that at the end of the day they will come to the right decision. i mean what i hear -- >>:do you believe that? >> because i hear a lot of them. and i -- over the years saying this who is going to have a full package with the u.s., full normalization with the u.s. is going to be a national hero. that, you hear it in the streets of tehran. you hear it among the leadership.
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everybody tells you that whoever is going to make a full peace with the. is is going to be a national hero. because they know that the majority of the iranian people would like to see full normal relationship with the u.s. >> it is said that the united states is popular among them. >> it is quite popular. >> pop you lus at large. >> it is unlike the arab world when -- >> exactly. >> when the people are angry with the u.s. and the leadership are friendly t is the other way around. and i think all the leadership understand that. and i hear sometimes that what you see right now is someone who is going to take credit for that, you know, dialogue with the u.s. so i cannot say that we will be able finally to get everybody, and there is a lot of hard-liner. they are never going to change. but i hope the moderates, you know, however you define it, would take, will prevail. and understand that long-term interests. and understand that they need not just as the u.s. need to assure the neighbors, they need to assure the israelis. they need to assure all the
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countries in the region that they are ready to coexist in peace wi them. the neighbors also should really get off the fence. i mean the neighbors are not really engaged at all. as arab neighbors that have been telling them for just don't leave it to the u.s. and the european, get edge engaged because this is your regional security. >> and are you going to be retired. >> i'm going supposedly to be retired, charlie. >> maybe not? >> well, i retire from the job but i will continue to speak on some of these issues because some of these issues have to do with our own very survival. and i will at least would like to continue to speak on this issue. >> when you look at what has happened, is the most important thing that has changed not on the iranian side but that there are no conditions from the american side. >> yeah. >> is that the most important new reality. >> i think so. i think so. i think that is really a game changer, if you like. the message to iran, we are ready to sit with you.
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without any condition. and that happened twice, you know. last month, there was a meeting. it was between bill burns. >> right. >> what came out of that? >> well, what i was told, it was quite a good meetingment quite a constructive meeting. the big meeting was not really the greatest. the bilateral meeting was very good. i had another meeting betwn again -- and the iranian counterpart and that was also quite good. the iranian are very interested, i can tell you, in the bilateral dialogue with the u.s. >> so is north korea. >> exactly. >> i mean that is not necessarily with the rest of the world but primarily with the owner of the store. you know. >> that is what it is about. >> that is what it is about, absolutely. >> thank you for coming. >> thank you very much, charlie for having me. >> it is a pleasure to see you. >> same here. >> back in a moment. stay with us.
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>> in elections on tuesday republicans swept to victory in gubernatorial races in virginia and new jersey. republican leaders claimed the wins were a rebuke to president obama's agenda one year after his election and the beginning of a republican comeback. democrats won in special house elections in new york and california. and new york city mayor michael bloomberg was reelected to a third term by smaller than expected margin. joining me now from washington to talk about these developments is john harris, editor in chief of "politico".com. i'm pleased to have him back on this program. how do you read what happened. >> i think somebody like senator mark warn we are who did tell my publication "politico" we got walloped, i thinkhe has a certain amount of credibility on this subject. he is a politician who is been elected in virginia by winning over independents and facing sort of precisely the kind of electorates that a lot of democrats are going to be facing in 2010. democrats took over the house in 2006 and won big never 208 because they took over previously republican
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seats. in the upper south, places like virginia, along the ohio river valley. the electorates there are similar in composition to virginia. so i do happen to think virginia has some particular relevance. new swrersee, probably more driven by local factors and governor corzine's steep unpopularity there which has been showing up in polls all year. do my view, charlie, is that these elections were not necessarily a referendum on president obama. but they do speak to the political situation that he faces and that all democrats up in 2010 also face. >> rose: does it stop some sense of whatever we were thinking about that the country, because of president oa's election, had gone into a dramatic new place, that we were looking at a new era? >> to me it does say that. the idea that president obama and his team were able to somehow transform the map
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and transform the political geography of this country or the political demography of this country, that just doesn't look to be the case. they did redraw the map in 2008. it was an enormously impressive victory but that doesn't mean that they have somehow fundamentally altered the landscape in permanent ways. this country still in political terms is in most elections a jump ball. and just because the country moved in a pretty emphatic direction in 2008 doesn't mean that it can't step just as emphatically the other direction in a relatively short amount of time. to me fluidity is still the dominant characteristic of the american electorat >> rose: they are up for grabs. >> they are up for grabs. >> rose: so characterize our president. we're a year away from the election. what surprises you? what do you discern about
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his style? >> well, it is a good time to ask that question. because wednesday was the first anniversary of his election. he is hard to classify. people that thought he was a bill clinton-style new democrat have a year ago, and there ra lot of people who voted for him thinking just that. they have been surprised. that's not exactly what he is. people thought he was in the spirit of paul wells and was going to lead a liberal renaissance, they're obviously disappointed. what struck me about barack obama what we have learned about him in these past 12 months is one, he is a man of epic ambition. the so-called big bang agenda that he laid out, right at the beginning, right at the inauguration, he's going to try to do everything this year. health care, stimulus package, energy legislation, reregulate the financial market. that is the most ambitious
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democratic agenda we have seen in 40 years. so you can never go wrong betting that barack obama will be -- will go for the -- go for the long pass. at the same time, and contradicting that, it's been surprising in many ways what a sort of a conventional politician he is. they haven't transformed the culture of washington. they haven't sort of fundamentally remade the politics. what is his style? what does he act like? what kind of a political calculation does he make? they are entirely familiar ones. he is a -- he was elected as a movement politician. but he does not really have the soul of a movement politician. he, as president he has got the soul of a rather conventional, constantly calibrating politician. like most presidents. so he's both more ambitious in one side of his brain, but more familiar on the other side of his brain.
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it makes himkind of a puzzle. >> rose: all right, let me talk about some of the things that you have said which you just expressed. this is what you said in terms of what piece you wrote. you said he is innately self-protective, constantly calibrating and in some surprising ways, a supremely conventional politician. he is a president as grand in -- he is a leader of epic ambitions who when faced with difficult choices almost always pursues his aims with a pedestrian strategy and style. i mean that is what you just said but the language is even stronger. >> well, it was an effort to, that colleagues and i made, that article i wrote the other day on politiceau comes out of a lot of discussion that we had in the newsroom, trying to make sense of barack obama. and you see it in the disparate reactions to him. that there are some people who regard him as a radical figure trying to remake american life. that is the reason he energized such passion.
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on the right but at the same time you see this sense of disappointment with many people on the left who look at obama and say how we were hoping for so much more. and how can you have both those things. the right that regards him as a mortal enemy and the left that regards him as somewhat ever a disappointment. i think the answer so that is found in his style. he has the soul of an ideal log. he did not come to washington just to hold the office. he has big ambitions. and at the same tie he -- time he also has the soul of a political op rative. this team around him has is never happier when they are in campaign mode. and they, like most politicians there is nothing especially surprising about this except that we thought black bam was somehow a different type of figure. most politicians are self-protective. they are looking to preserve flexibility. they are looking to test
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what the market will bear. it turns out that is what motivates barack obama. not surprising unless he thought coming out of the 2008 campaign that this is fundamentally a different kind of politician. he is a movement politician. rather than a more conventional variety. >> rose: is he more likely to disappoint those who had such high aspirations or is he more likely to persuade them that he has to deal in a political world and he can't be what they want him to be? >> i think he faces a task of constant education. meaning that he has to pursue his objectives realistically. he does have to. like all presidents sort of test what the market will bear. but also maintain that connection, that very powerful connection he established in 2 o 008 with a generation of democrats that is restless, impatient, that doesn't want to be blunt -- another bill clinton style democrat in
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the white house. bill clinton represented the defensive brand of politics. we have to watch out or we'll be cast -- we'll be branded as out of the mainstream, out of step to liberal. that is what the kind of politics that bill clinton represented. i think this generation of democratsis contempuous of defensive politics. they want a democratic president who aggressively and without apology pursues big ambitions, wants a big roll for government in american life and the fact is, that if barack obama were to respond only to those people asking him to do more, he would be exposing himself to great political vulnerable. already we have seen the discontent among moderate independent voters with much of what they see happening in washington. doesn't mean they have abandoned barack obama but they have clearly sent a yellow light. in fact i think that yellow light is what was, or even a red light is what we saw in virginia the other night.
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>> you said also in a piece that i read oa backtracks. obama's backtracks are too fresh and discreet to fully define him or become the narrative of his presidency. at least not yet but he is edging toward dangerous ground. >> i think that is right. remember bill clinton at some point in his presidency became part of the narrative about him. and every time that he tried to reassess the position or make modifications to his view, it fit within a frame which was there goes slick wily, bill clinton the politician, always trying to figure out the angles. and the ability to look at problem as new or change his mind in the face of new evidence. in some ways was seen, i think somewhat unfairly as a character defect of bill clinton. barack obama is not in that situation yet. >> john, thank you so much. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: john harris, "politico".com. back in a moment. stay with us.
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john grisham is here. he has written 21 novels and one work of nonfiction. his most recent book returned to the same phinxal rural mississippi setting as his first novel, "a time to kill" which was 20 years ago. it is called ford county and the first collection of short stories. i'm pleased to hav john grisham back at this table. welcome. >> happy to be here. twice in 1 year. >> rose: damn. >> we were here january. we filmed the live segment at the barnes & noble store. >> rose: never enough for me. we can't get enough. >> ten months ago. >> rose: why did you go back to this fictional county where we saw "a time to kill"? >> it's where i'm from. and i know the landscape, i know the people. for ten years i practiced law in a small town. i know the lauriers. i know the clients. i know the history. and it's where i really love to write stories. "a time to kill" was there 20 yrs ago. i have gone back a couple
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times in other books. the last juror was about five years ago, all set there. it is just where, it's where i belong. it's where i'm from. >> rose: describe this place to me. >> it's a typical small town in the deep south. it's northern mississippi somewhere. the courthouse is the -- center of town. the way i describe it, it is where i practiced law for ten years, the courtroom. >> rose: fans, not air conditioning. >> both but the ac doesn't always work. but it's more about people. pore about the small town people, many of whom are struggling. many of whom have had a lot of miss erie, not a lot of hope. it's about small town lawyers and the crazy things they do out of desperation. all stuff i saw firsthand many years ago. >> rose: does the american judicial system work? >> for the most part, civil
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and criminal. what's frustrating is it could work a whole lot better. and save a bunch of mon and save a bunch of miss erie in the process. >> rose: you don't think it works for the -- >> no, norfolk 4. >> no, it totally broke down. judicial, penal, everything, everything broke down for the norfolk 4, a terrible case of wrongful conviction for four young sailors. probably the worst case of wrongful conviction yet. >> rose: why is that? >> well, it's just a terrible case. it's like any wrongful, you take any wrongful conviction case and you start dissecting. people ask me all the time because i do so much innocence work now. we've had 245 dna exnation -- exonerations so far and half those guys were on death row. how these cases happened. and they are all a combination of bad police work, overzealous promise cuters, jailhouse snitchs, junk science, bad defense lawyering.
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>> rose: political ambition. >> that a little bit. from all prosecutors are aggressive. but judges who were asleep or just a number of factors in bad eye witness identification. these factors all come together, almost any wrongful conviction case has a combination. >> rose: but is it more competent than it is evil doing. >> well, it's -- i don't know. almost every wrongful conviction case could have been avoided. and what is frustrating is so many of them involve willful misconduct by the police and prosecutors. and that's --. >> rose: that is wrongdoing. >> that's wrongdoing. and then they are never, never, never held accountable for that. because they are the law. and they are not going to prosecute themselves. but the innocence work is, i've done a lot of it i have written one book. i'm going to write another one, probably a novel. that is what keeps me awake at nights these days. >> rose: are you involved in the norfolk 4. >> not as much as i would.
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i'm on the board of directors here in new york, the innocence project. and i do a lot of traveling around speaking to innocence. i got involved unofficially in the case. there were a lot of really good lawyers involved in that case. and the governor of virginia, tim cane pardoned the boys, the sailor, to the boys, sailors early in august and they got out of prison. and after serving 12 years for something they didn't do. i'm thinking about writing a screenplay. i'm thinking about making a movie. the screenplay is in progress. it's such a fascinating case. i would love to pursue it but almost all wrongful conviction cases are fascinating. because everything goes wrong for these people. and as a system we're so geared up to punish wrongdoingers and ki them or lock them away for life. and we've lost sight of what is important in this country. >> rose: i read somewhere that continuing the idea of doing things that you have done before, that you are going to write a sort of other, you will update a
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painted house. >> well. >> rose: in other words, will you take it from 10 to 20 or something. >> yeah, charlie be careful what you read about what i say. because i deal in fiction. i'm apt to say things that aren't true. just, provide a good answer to someone who is asking questions. >> rose: i see. so i can't believe anything grisham says. >> i wouldn't, in the a word, not a word. >> rose: i knew that about you, because you are a lawyer. >> my hero is mark twain. you couldn't believe a word mark twain said. and that is kind of the way i treat life. i won't lie f it is serious i won't lie but if it is not serious i may say anything. >> rose: this one of those casesness isn't it. >> when you ask --. >> rose: you will never go back to this. >> never say never but you don't know what are you going to do. i have learned the hard way, as a writer. i never thought i would write nonfiction and i wrote the innocent man three years ago, published it three years ago and got involved in this wrongful conviction. i never thought i would be writing, or publishing short stories. these stories go back many years but none of them were complete a year ago.
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i tinkered with them over the years and made notes and all that. the year ago i got --. >> rose: here is the problem with you, sir. >> there more than one problem. >> rose: i know that. but it's easy for you. it really is easy. and you admit that. and short stories even easier than the novel, correct. you figure out the outline. you are writing about what you know. you know how to tell a story. you know how 0 go from chap tore to chapter to chapter. it's just a piece of cake. you are cruising, you're cruising. >> it's not difficult. i mean it's to the --. >> rose: i know. >> i have a hard time, charlie working slow. i mean i really have a hard time working slow. and it's because there are so meaning stories i want to tell, small stories. short stories. long stories. novels. there is a lot of good material out there. this is book number 23. i never thought i would write 23 books. but i can't wait to write the next one. i'm thinking about one after that. it's not because i'm a
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workaholic. i'm pretty lazy. it doesn't take long to write a book. >> six months to write it, right. >> about six months. and i'm not greedy. the money is not a factor any more. it's just what i do for a living, first of all. if i didn't write a book or two a year, i don't know what i would do. >> you can't -- i done -- >> you can't coach little league. >> my kids are all grown-up. don't know what i would do. but the books are still a lot of fun to put together. and then all the things that happen after, you know, after the book comes out, the movies would sometimes happen. >> the more interesting movies now here too, can i believe that? >> well, we -- i would love for every one of my books to be filmed into a good movie. not a great movie but just something that we all love a good movie. it is very difficult now in hollywood to make a movie. a bunch of different reasons. >> for john grisham to make a movie. >> absolutely, yes, sir. >> because they say the audience -- who reads your books? >> a lot of really smart people. >> of course. >> aot of bright folks. but nowadays we don't -- >> who would want to see
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skill writing. >> nowadays you don't make -- >> the adult drama is dead, as far as this film, okay. we are getting --. >> really. >> it is not dead on tv. >> we could put it on hbo, couldn't we. >> tv is hotter than movies. in a cycle of hollywood, though, you are seeing action figures and action movies and romantic comedies and all this science fiction stuff. that i don't really get. but the adult drama is dead for now. >> all right so, how did you choose which short stories to write here before we leave this. >> i only had seven. and they are all in there. i didn't have 12 to pick from. >> rose: but you are always starting things and putting it in a drawer and coming back to it. >> yeah, and there are a lot of other stories. but not all stories are good. and these, these all --. >> rose: do we know the difference. >> well, yeah, the bad ones don't get finished. almost all those stories, he thought started as a novel. at some point this could be a novel. and some go back 20 years. and --. >> rose: that is my point. >> but they weren't long enough. i couldn't -- i couldn't see
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e -- i couldn't see 400 pages of -- suspend. >> rose: you don't want to leave -- he had grisham household you don't want to leave any ideas. >> oh, no. >> rose: we have to use everything. >> if the bus hits me tomorrow, they are going straigpulling out all of the juk and it will be published. there is a lot of junk in the computer. >> rose: this book, short stories, ford county. >> i will see you at the duke-carolina basketball game february 9th, 2010 in the dean dome. >> rose: i will be there because my good friend roy williams invited me to come. >> i will be there okay. >> rose: do you know roy. >> yes, i know roy. we'll be 9:00 kickoff. we'll be at the game. >> rose: there you go. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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